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We have lift off

Kone and Otis are two of the most famous names in lift technology. Here we compare their latest developments

New service/call centre KONE is building a facility in Keighley in the north of England to house a new service/call centre, offices and an elevator and escalator training centre.

The building is scheduled to become operational at the end of 2003.

Currently, much of Kone's research and development work is carried out at its base outside Helsinki, where it has the longest lift testing facility in the world. Here, rather than waste money on a purpose-built lift tower, its test rig drops 200m into an existing limestone mine.

KONE's eco-disc lift hoisting unit has been around for a few years but is in a constant state of improvement. It is a very efficient mechanism that has only one moving part, a very low revving motor, and a gearless construction. This means that besides having efficient power consumption - using just half the power required by equivalent conventional systems - it uses no oil and thus removes greatly the risk of contamination and fire.

Essentially, KONE has taken the synchronous motor concept and made it more compact. The outer layer is a permanent magnet (stator) which provides a constantly exited magnetic field for the rotor. By making the sheave (lift wheel) part of the rotor rather than a separate wheel which is turned by the rotor, the overall control machinery has been able to be compacted and now weighs around half that of conventional geared traction devices; hence the work efficiencies can be improved.

Because the rotor action is integral to the functioning of the hoist, KONE has also improved the operating efficiencies - with energy consumption 3,000kWh at a running speed of 1m/sec with a load of 630kg.

Cars have a stopping accuracy of less than 10mm.

For further details call 0870 7701122

Plan your project

Otis' proudest development seems to be its new website, which is translated into 29 languages - from Vietnamese to Ukrainian, Chinese and Hungarian. It shows off the company's global reach but also exemplifies its recognition that the Internet plays a valuable role in faster service provision.

By entering the 'Plan your Project' page (getting past the registration page), architects are able to design and price a selection of lifts, with prices given in national currencies.

Production drawings can be downloaded and there is even a button to press if you want to place an order.

Otis' newer innovations include the Gen 2 (second generation) lift which incorporates the first ever use of flat belt technology to draw the lift cars up the shaft. The belts are about 30mm wide and only 3mm thick - comprising 12 woven high-tensile steel strands encased in a black polyurethane sleeve. This coated belt is therefore far more flexible than the traditional woven cables that have been the industry standard since the 1800s, meaning that it can bend around a sheave of only 100mm diameter, which is approximately 20 per cent smaller than conventional cable sheaves. The permanent magnet gearless machine is about 70 per cent smaller than normal, negating in many applications the need for a dedicated machine room.

Three belts per lift, working in unison, can lift almost 11 tonnes (which builds in a 12-fold safety factor). Gen 2 lifts have been used at the new Baltic Centre for Contemporary Arts in Gateshead, where the workings are exposed to public view.

The belt grips the sheave at the top of the shaft by friction alone, so there is no appreciable wear and tear on the components.

In conventional cable lift applications, once the shaft gets to about 500m high, the self-weight of the cable becomes a limiting factor and becomes self-defeating to provide weight compensation. Although Gen 2 cannot yet extend to this height range, its lighter cable means that operational efficiencies can be greatly improved.

For information call 020 7919 9500

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